3/8/2013 8:04 P.M. ET
Gomes joins Indians with renewed determination
By William Boor / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Despite being the first Brazilian-born player to reach the Major Leagues, Yan Gomes passed up an opportunity to represent his country in the World Baseball Classic to make a strong impression on the Cleveland Indians organization.
Although statistics from nine Spring Training games are not necessarily indicative of any player's potential, manager Terry Francona likes what he sees from the 25-year-old thus far.
"Very impressed," Francona said. "I think we've all been impressed with his ability to run a game, throw and swing the bat. We've all been pleased."
Gomes entered Friday's game batting .412 with seven hits (one home run) in 17 at-bats this spring.
The Indians acquired Gomes, along with Mike Aviles, in an offseason trade with the Blue Jays.
Gomes has the ability to play multiple positions -- he started games at first, second and third base during his freshman season at the University of Tennessee -- but believes his Major League future is behind the plate.
"There's nothing he has done that has sent up a red flag that he can't [be an everyday catcher]," Francona said.
Gomes' transition from a utility player to a catcher began last season, when he was trying to find playing time in the Blue Jays organization.
"I wasn't playing much coming up, so I thought I would try different positions," Gomes said. "I talked to the coaches with the Blue Jays, and they just tried me out [at catcher], and they liked it."
Gomes' 2012 campaign was split between Triple-A Las Vegas and the Blue Jays. In 79 games in the Pacific Coast League, Gomes hit .328, while he hit .204 in 43 games for the Blue Jays.
Although Gomes' time in the Major Leagues was sporadic, it gave him a glimpse of his future. The glimpse was all he needed, as the small taste of the big leagues gave Gomes a desire to improve entering the 2013 season.
"It made me work a little harder, because being up there is an unbelievable feeling, so I want to get up there and stay up there," Gomes said.
While playing in the Majors strengthened Gomes' resolve, it also helped him to learn the importance of making quick adjustments.
"Pitchers up there make adjustments real quick, so you have to adjust with them and see how they attack you," Gomes said.
Gomes is spending Spring Training learning as much as he can about playing in the Major Leagues, in addition to becoming familiar with the Indians' pitching staff. As a new member to the organization, Gomes has a lot of work to do regarding the latter.
The catcher said it usually takes about a full season before a pitcher and he are 100 percent on the same page, but catching bullpen sessions -- as well as engaging in casual conversations throughout Spring Training -- helps move the process along.
"[My goal for now is to] keep doing what I'm doing now, getting to know a lot of the pitchers, seeing how they work, attack guys and what they like to do," Gomes said.
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.